Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Overlooked Movies: It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)

I came across this Christmas movie I'd never even heard of before, let alone seen, and it was a fortuitous discovery. The plot involves a homeless man (Victor Moore) who sneaks into a closed-up mansion belonging to a tycoon (Charlie Ruggles) every winter while the right guy is off at his other estate. A down-on-his-luck former GI (Don Defore) discovers this and winds up sharing the mansion, and so do some of his GI buddies and their families, all of whom are having trouble finding a place to live due to the post-war housing shortage. Then there's the beautiful young woman (Gale Storm, one of my early crushes) they catch sneaking into the mansion. They believe she's in a bad spot like the rest of them, but she's actually the tycoon's daughter. It's not long before her father finds out what's going on, but at his daughter's urging, he pretends to be a hobo so he can be a squatter in his own mansion and get to know the people who have moved in there. There's also a pending business deal that figures in the plot.

This is such a good-natured movie it didn't matter to me that I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen. The cast is full of great character actors, including Alan Hale Jr. and Charles Lane. It suffers a little from having Don Defore as the leading man (I'm much more used to him playing the smarmy neighbor in countless movie and TV comedies), but I even liked him before the picture was over. In fact, my thorny old heart was actually warmed. The Christmas angle is actually pretty small in it, but that's all right. It's still a good movie to watch at this time of year, and I'm glad to have seen it.


Neil A. Waring said...

We found this movie a few years ago, and it is an all-time favorite in our house. Although we have watched it for several years, we did not see it anywhere this season. Fun movie.

Matthew Clark said...

I also had an early crush on Gale Storm. I was too young to understand too much of what was happening on her namesake television show, where she worked on a ocean liner. But, I did like watching her.

James Reasoner said...

I remember The Gale Storm Show, which was broadcast in reruns as Oh. Susanna!, I believe. I also watched reruns of her first series, My Little Margie.